2019 Retirement Havens

It’s been widely acknowledged that Americans work too much and for too long. While retirement is seen by many as the perfect opportunity to travel, explore new passions, and enjoy the fruits of many years of labor, for many people retirement seems too expensive. With the high cost of medical care, lightening fast pace of life, and often extreme weather in the United States, it’s no wonder that many look to other countries to spend part or all of their retirement years.

There are many exciting and affordable countries in which to explore during your retirement, but people looking to maximize their money can find some of the best deals for retirees just south of the border in Central America and the Caribbean. This region is known for its impressive history, warm people, beautiful weather, ease of travel to the U.S., and relatively inexpensive cost of living, but the charms don’t end there. Here are some of the incredible programs offered to retirees in these countries.

Belize

Belize offers what they call the Qualified Retirement Program, or QRP. This program allows eligible applicants to permanently live, retire, and relax in beautiful Belize.

Benefits

  • Residence Card – You and your qualified dependents (spouse and children under age 18) will receive a residence card which allows you to come and go from Belize without a visa
  • During the first year you are enrolled in this program, you receive duty-free tax exemptions on your personal belongings as you bring them into the country. Qualifying items include personal boats, vehicles, and light aircraft.
  • Additional tax exemptions – QRP enrollees are exempt from paying Belizean tax on all income received from outside the country, any capital gains tax and any inheritance tax on received funds.

Eligibility

  • Must be 45 years old or older
  • Must have a pension, annuity, or similar funds of at least $2,000/month or $24,000/year from a source outside of Belize
  • You must deposit the funds from above in a Belizean financial institution
  • Must pass a security clearance by the Ministry of National Security of Belize
  • Remain in Belize for at least 30 consecutive days each year

Application Information: Application can by found on the Belize Tourism Board’s website

Ready to make the leap? Find a home in  Belize on RealtyHive!


Panama

Panama raises the bar on best places to retire with its world-renowned “pensionado” program. This program doesn’t just allow foreign citizens to live in Panama, but also includes incredible benefits for those that do.

Benefits

  • Discounts of up to 50% on entertainment (movie and theater tickets, concerts, sporting events) and hotels; 30% off bus, boat, and train fares; 25% off airline tickets and monthly energy bills and 15% off hospital bills (unless insurance applies)
  • One-time exemption of duties on the import of household goods (up to $10,000) and tax exemptions every two years on the import or purchase of a car
  • Grandfathered pensionado status. If the laws for acceptance into this program change, your status will remain unchanged

Eligibility

  • Must have a pension (or similar) of at least $1,000/month
  • Applications for the program as reviewed on a case-by-case basis and do not have a minimum age to qualify

Learn more about the pensionado program by checking out “Panama for Retirees” or find your perfect Panama home on RealtyHive

Application Information:  You’ll need an immigration lawyer in Panama to complete many of the steps. Learn more about the details of this process by visiting the Embassy of Panama website

Ecuador

While many people don’t immediately think of this South American nation as a prime retirement destination, Ecuador has grown in popularity in recent years. As one of the world’s most biodiverse places, this country is perfect for adventurous retirees looking for excellent value for their money. This program is a little less straightforward than others requiring a temporary visa for the first two years of residency and then a permanent residency visa can be applied for.

Benefits:

  • 50% off public transportation, airfare, cultural/sports/artistic/recreational events, and electricity/water/telephone services
  • Discounts on property, income, and vehicle taxes as well as a refund of sales tax
  • Pay no taxes on foreign income
  • Import household goods duty free within 6 months after obtaining residency

Eligibility:

  • Must show guaranteed income of at least $800/month, plus an extra $100/month for each dependent joining you.
    • Note: If the income comes from a source other than pension or Social Security income (like investment dividends or income from a trust), the amount of $800 per month for 5 years ($48,000) must be deposited in an Ecuadorian bank in advance
  • Cannot leave Ecuador for more than 90 days in calendar year during first or second year of holding the visa
  • Must have proof of private health insurance or must be affiliated with Ecuador’s social security system

Application Information: Ministry of International Relations and Immigration (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana) https://www.cancilleria.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/formulario_de_solicitud_de_visa.pdf

Colombia

From the 1970s to the mid-2000s, the news out of Colombia was not great for anyone looking for a peaceful retirement destination. Between guerilla factions, political unrest, and a deadly drug war, Colombia was seen as a dangerous place for tourists and citizens alike. These days, Colombia is a relatively safe country where you can enjoy incredible natural wonders and lively cultural. While Colombia’s benefits for retirees aren’t quite as robust or codified into law like in other countries, the low financial requirements and low cost of living make this a great choice for retirement.

Benefits:

  • Can be converted to a Resident visa after 5 years

Eligibility:

  • Must be at least 18 years old to apply
  • Must have a pension of at least 3 times the Colombian monthly minimum wage (approximately $766 per month as of June 2049)
    • A second, almost identical program allows for qualification with non-pension income such as interest or dividends. This program requires at least 10 times the monthly minimum wage or just over $2550 per month

Application Information: Application can be found by visiting the Minister of International Relations website

Author’s Note: This article contains research done in June 2019 and should be considered a starting point of research only. Tax, benefit, real estate, and other laws are constantly changing and it’s important for you to consult relevant licensed professionals when making big, important decisions.

dog with eyes closed

My Doggy Dream Home!

Dear humans, I would first like to thank you for taking me into your home and treating me like one of your own. That being said, I have a couple of requests to make that would turn our okay house into a dog’s absolute doggy dream house!

Firstly, the life of a dog can be pretty tiring. I mean the amount of time we spend bringing back toys to humans who continue to through them far away is crazy! You’d think their arm would get tired after a while. The walks, the tug of war, the effort put into begging for one small piece of food really takes the fuel out of a dog like me. When humans go to bed they get luxurious fluffy beds to lay in, but us dogs get the smelly dirty old floor. I understand to some 8 hours on the floor, by themselves, in complete silence and darkness may seem like a luxury, but me personally…not feeling it. So I propose a revamping of my current sleep situation, below there are a couple options of beds that would allow me to live the doggy dream you could say.

A room of my very own, complete with a welcome matt and dog bed and all my favorite toys would really make a dog feel loved.

https://www.inspiremore.com/dog-home-under-stairs/

It’s no secret that I like to stay close to you guys, and the night can seem long and even scary when I”m laying all by myself. That’s why I propose this elevated dog bed that allows me to stay close to you without taking up any room in your bed. I promise I won’t howl, or bark, or run in my sleep, it’ll be like I’m not even there; promise.  

https://www.amazon.com/Petsfit-House-Indoor-Wooden-Condo/dp/B01D8BTEJ0

There is nothing I love more than our family movie time. After you all get done with whatever you humans spend so much time doing Monday through Friday and we get to cuddle up to watch our favorite shows. I love it more than when I get the leftover peanut butter in the peanut butter jar, but it always ends with you upset about all the fur on the couch, so I found this one just for you! It’s a dog bed that can slide out from under the couch, this way we can still have our movie nights and you can still sit on the couch without getting fur all over your everything! Win-win right?

http://tinyhousepins.com/hidden-slide-out-bed-under-your-bed-for-your-dog/

Okay so I think this technically qualifies as more of a dog sofa then a dog bed, but when we all gather around the TV at night, I feel like everyone in the family has a designated place to sit except me. Everyone has their spot on the couch or their recliner so I was thinking I should have my Spot as well. Below I attached a link to a place where we could purchase me my designated piece of furniture, a sofa of my very own. It’s only fair.

https://www.grandinroad.com/bailey-pet-sofa/1197669

The only thing more important to us dogs than sleep is food. Any food you give me I’ll eat, any food you drop I’ll eat, anything you make regardless of sanitization I’ll eat, and I’ll say it one more time for the dogs in the back, I will eat anything. You’ll always get a 5-star Yelp review from me. This means that my doggy dream home should be stacked with homemade dog treats. I mean I’m a good boy, don’t I deserve these treats?

Doggy donuts. If your mouth didn’t water reading that then you probably didn’t read it right, or maybe your just not a dog. Regardless, I, as a dog, really would like these… in my mouth….right now.

https://www.sunnydayfamily.com/2017/01/dog-donuts.html

Yogurt peanut butter banana homemade dog treats. A doggy dream snack some may call it. If I had thumbs maybe I’d make them myself, but until then I NEED you to help me out!

https://thisdogbarks.com/homemade-dog-treats/

Frosty breath dog treats. Now depending on how you look at this one, it could be a treat for you too. I mean not a treat you’d eat, but you humans are always talking about our dog breathe and how bad it is (which is kinda rude not gonna lie), so maybe it could be considered a treat for your nose.

https://threelittleferns.com/2017/07/frosty-breath-dog-treats.html

Besides our house, the majority of my time is spent out in our yard. Which, don’t get me wrong we have a pretty great yard, but there is always room for improvement in the doggy dream world. I’ve done some research and found a couple possible additions that could turn us into the #1 dog hangout spot of the year.

You know what’s a great way to relax the muscles after a long walk or day at the park; a bath. I have this feeling I wouldn’t be very welcomed to join you while you’re in the tub so I was thinking maybe I should get one of my own. There’s nothing wrong with an overly clean dog now is there?

http://www.breakyourpiggybank.com/bone-shaped-dog-pool/

Using the restroom is just a natural part of life for all forms of life, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. I know this seems a little excessive for a place to relieve myself, but sitting on the toilet for 30 minutes on your phone could be considered a little excessive as well, so let’s keep our judgments to ourselves. Besides I’m sure you guys are tired of me staining the grass anyhow and this would be the perfect way to keep your grass green all year long.

https://www.scooperdude.com/heres-scoop-doggy-urine-lawn-damage/

Can we take a minute, close your eyes and imagine every time you enter or exit the house, having to climb through a tiny window. Not the most enjoyable form of movement, huh? Well us dogs have to do that all day every day. What’s wrong with a dog wanting to enter and exit his home with a little class, is it really that much to ask?

https://www.instructables.com/id/High-Class-Dog-Door/

The best thing the backyard could have is a window to the outside world. My world consists of the house, the front yard, and the backyard which after a while starts to feel a little small. A window like the one I found below really makes everything feel more open to a dog.

https://www.ebay.com/p/PetPeek-Fence-Window-for-Pets-Sc1pp-040232009006/691298831?iid=232272954482

There isn’t any clear category to list all of my further additions under, but nevertheless, they are all crucial to the success of my personal doggy dream home.

Want to know what is one of the worst parts about being a dog, other than the obvious lack of thumb fingers? It’s not being able to use the bathroom when your body decided it’s time to use the bathroom. You couldn’t imagine how long I’ve held it, sitting in front of the door, waiting for one, just one human to come open the door. Well, I have found a resolution to this issue. Please consider this one greatly from me and your carpets.

https://kolchakpuggle.com/2014/01/diy-bathroom-bells-dogs.html?crlt.pid=camp.LCIH9va2bVbq

Do you ever feel like you just need some you time? Well, this may come as a surprise, but I do too! Sometimes I need a nice nap to rest off all the stress in my doggy life, but there is no place in the house that I can go and just be closed off. Each of you humans have your room and I guess I’m looking for something like that. Below I found a way for you to turn my cage into not only a nice piece of furniture but also a nice quiet corner for me to rest! Sounds like a positive for both of us!

https://www.hometalk.com/16743626/beautify-your-dog-s-crate-with-this-simple-table-build#lb-signup

Okay so here’s the thing, hot showers sounds amazing. I understand that this is an expensive investment to make for your dog, but I think you’ll love the benefits of it just as much as I’ll love resting in it. Okay so no one has ever complained about a clean dog, and if you get me those sweet smelling bottles from the pet store I won’t just look good I’ll smell good. Then you’ll be able to walk me around the neighborhood with your head held high because you have the cleanest dog in town, now doesn’t that sound appealing? What Ii’m saying is…please?

https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/how-to-plan-dog-cleaning-station

Do you wanna know why us dogs are bad when you’re gone? It’s because we have no reason to be good. If we’re good while your home we get a treat, but if we’re good when you’re gone…nothing. That’s why this genius man thought to have an automatic treat dispenser controlled by his phone so he can reward his dog for being good even when he’s gone. I bet he doesn’t come home to chaos.

.https://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-Treat-Dispenser-With-Video-Motion-Det/

I will eat just about anything regardless of how sanitary it is, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy eating uncivilized. Sometimes getting my dry, flavorless, pellets in a classy presentation would be nice. Here’s where I introduce the cool thing I found: my dog bowls in a drawer. I know so simple yet so fancy.

http://roomfortuesday.com/dog-feeder-diy-giveaway/

So all of these things are great, and yes they would make our home much more exciting and comfortable for me, but none of this really makes a house a doggy dream home. When I really think about it, it’s you guys, my humans that complete my doggy dream home. So I guess as long as I have you I don’t need the treat launchers, the hot tub, or the handmade treats. As far as I am concerned you’re the most important addition to my dream home. I guess there’s a reason we call your dog’s best friend!

From, Your best friend

Real Estate Trivia

Jeopardy has been around for 55 years, but it was James Holzhauer’s epic streak on the game show that has renewed interest in fans from around the world. His aggressive and unique playing style mixed with his seemingly infinite amount of knowledge made his 32-game winning streak an lightening rod for viewership.

While his time on the show may have come to an end before he was able to break the impressive 74-game and $2.52 million streak of Ken Jennings, Holzhauer has inspired a trivia game of our own.

Famous for its high real estate prices, this US state is home to the highest percentage of renters vs owners

Holding the title of “World’s Most Expensive Home” this dwelling is fit for a Queen

This interior design style, popularized in the 1950’s focuses on functionality, geometric forms, minimal ornamentation, and a vast range of colors

With plenty of natural beauty, this US state has long been the most expensive to live in

These Texans are known more for their shiplap fixes than their real estate flops

With an average of 1768sqft, this US state boasts the largest average home size in the nation

Once home to the King, this home now operates as popular attraction complete with themed restaurants, events, tours, and more

Popular both as a hairstyle and floor covering, this style dominated the 1970’s

The US picked up this large piece of real estate in 1867 for just $0.02/acre

Seeing nothing but swampland and opportunity, this person famously picked up the first acre of land where Mickey would make his home for $80

Located in this nation, Istana Nurul Iman holds the World Record as the world’s largest residence of a state head

Once a personal residence, this architectural wonder is now an attraction featuring more than 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 160 rooms, and 47 stairs and fireplaces

These large filament bulbs aren’t always the most energy-efficient, but their beauty led them to be a major trend in the 2010s

Nicknamed “The Mountain” and listed at $1 Billion, this 157-acre parcel is the most expensive real estate ever offered for sale and is located in this U.S. city

A prolific creator, this designer and architect drafted more than 1,000 structures and founded the “Usonian” style

This country is home to the Copan Building, the largest apartment building in the world with more than 5,000 residents

Located in Virginia, this estate was once home to the author of the Declaration of Independence

This 1990s interior design trend used marine life, real or manufactured, to style the walls

The most unaffordable market where a skilled service worker needs to work more than 20 years to afford to purchase 650sqft apartment near the city center

This famous patriot directly oversaw the construction of the “President’s Palace”, but never lived in it

Built in 1553, the oldest Governor’s mansion in the US is located in this territory

Cleveland is where you’ll find this movie home-turned-museum with it’s iconic leg lamp in the front window

This minty shade was one of the early hues used by American Standard to color everything from faucets to toilets

With a median home price of $64,300, this Texas town is the cheapest beach city in America

With a price tag of $238 million, this hegde-fund manager closed on the most expensive property in the U.S. in early 2019

Answers

Spoilers ahead!

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Location, Location, Location
  • 200 – New York
  • 400 – Utah
  • 600 – Brunei
  • 800 – Brazil
  • 1000 – Puerto Rico
Famous Homes
  • 200 – Buckingham Palace
  • 400 – Graceland
  • 600 – Winchester Mystery House (Winchester Mansion)
  • 800 – Monticello
  • 1000 – Bumpus House
Interior Designs
  • 200 – Mid-Century Modern
  • 400 – Shag
  • 600 – Edison Bulbs
  • 800 – Sponge Painting
  • 1000 – Ming Green
Market Madness
  • 200 – Hawaii
  • 400 – Alaska
  • 600 – Los Angeles
  • 800 – Hong Kong
  • 1000 – Port Arthur
House Hunters
  • 200 – Chip & Joanna Gaines
  • 400 – Walt Disney
  • 600 – Frank Lloyd Wright
  • 800 – George Washington
  • 1000 – Ken Griffin